Futurelooks Holiday 2008 Guide to Unique and Useful Gadgets

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Pack A Few More Gifts In Your Luggage Without Penalty

If that trip to visit family for the holidays ends up being extra lucrative, then you know that you need to figure out a way to get it back. Although you can pack that checked bag to capacity, airlines often love charging extra for those extra portly ones. This leads to the classic scenario of having to open up your luggage on the airport floor to redistribute the wealth. Here's a product that can help you avoid that.

Futurelooks Holiday 2008 Guide to Unique and Useful Gadgets

The balanzza Digital Luggage Scale is small handheld scale that allows you to get that weight distribution just right before heading for the crowded airport. The unit runs on two AAA batteries (included) and is small enough to just toss into any of your baggage. To use the scale, all you need to do is attach the strap to the handle of your bag, turn it on, lift, wait for the beep, and then put it down. The reading will be shown in the large, easy to read LCD and can be converted from metric to imperial units on the fly. It supports up to 100 lbs of weight or 44 kg if you're in the rest of the world. It's also very sturdy and the ergonomic handle makes it easy to grip with even the biggest bags.

The balanzza Digital Luggage Scale is priced at a very stocking stuffer friendly $24.95 US. Depending on how much you travel (or how often you break the airline scales), it could easily save you that and more in just one trip.

Give the Gift of Green Technology This Holiday Season

There are many ways to go green, but the most common way for people to reduce their footprint on mother earth is by changing their light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs. Recently, LED bulbs have been appearing on store shelves and thanks to GlacialLight, we should be seeing these bulbs in increasing quantities.

Futurelooks Holiday 2008 Guide to Unique and Useful Gadgets

GlacialLight's GL-BR30 bulbs provide a direct energy efficient replacement to standard household incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Using a measly 11 Watts, these LED bulbs provide up to 720 lumens of light, which is equivalent to a 75 watt incandescent bulb or a 15 watt fluorescent bulb. Although fluorescent bulbs are closer in energy consumption, LED bulbs have the advantage of longer life span at over 50,000+ hours. They are also instant on, requiring no warm up period to reach full brightness and are able to maintain full brightness till they die. They contain no environmentally hazardous metals such as mercury or sodium and do not emit potentially harmful UV radiation or infrared radiation like halogen lamps.

Futurelooks Holiday 2008 Guide to Unique and Useful Gadgets

Due to the small size of the LED lighting elements, GlacialLight has been able to design and manufacture common replacements for overhead fluorescent tubes and even halogen work lights. The only problems you may run into is availability and cost as they run a fair bit more than more common fluorescent and incandescent units at around $40 US for a single GL-BR30 bulb. However, based on the dramatically longer lifespan and potential energy savings (not to mention the lack of hazardous materials), they might just be worth it, and a unique and useful gift worth sharing.

Small Package: Lots of Fun!

Futurelooks Holiday 2008 Guide to Unique and Useful Gadgets

At a scant 20 grams and smaller than most USB flash drives, the Swann Monitoring Micro-VideoCam is a recipe for potential mischief (or fun). It can literally be hidden anywhere or attached to anything and records up to 2.5 hrs of video on a 2GB micoSD card. In other words, it's perfect for attaching to the tree to see who's been opening up their Xmas presents early. A built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery provides the juice and connects via USB for both charging and downloading of data.

The Micro-VideoCam records up to a resolution of 352 x 288 so it's far from HD Quality. Actually, it's below even YouTube quality. In my testing, I found the video to be quite grainy, and grainier still in low light so if you were thinking about setting it up in the dark as a spycam, you can forget about that. However, in well lit areas, it does produce viewable video and could be a hoot attached to a radio controlled car or the family pet. If you're looking for something higher quality, the Flip Video Mino would fit the bill, but is many times larger.

The Swann Micro-VideoCam will set you back about $119 US.

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Stephen is Futurelooks' Editor-In-Chief and front man. He also held the Tiger Direct Charity PC Race record for 2 years between 2011 and 2012. Stephen's interests include all things techie, but in particular, computer hardware. When he's not geeking out, he's a family man with daughter Lexi and another one on the way.

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